Playing with flour

I read on babycentre and in a book about how playing with flour could be a fun activity to try, so I decided to give it a go, despite some parents warning against it in some forums. My baby was going to have someone supervising her all the time so I thought it would be all right.

For ease of cleaning up, I cut open a black trashbag (black helps with the contrast too), laid it on the floor, sat baby down on the bag, and poured a cup of flour in front of her.

flour 2

We played simply by shifting flour around from spot to spot, and trying to write letters and draw pictures in the flour.

flour 1

flour 3

It was quite a messy affair (but not as bad as the time we played with edible paint). After that we washed our hands and used our wet hands to make handprints on the floor!

water handprints

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Making Photo Memory Materials

One of the Shichida Home Practice components is this thing called ‘Photo/Picture Memory’. In this exercise you show your child a picture for 8-10 seconds and then ask him/her to pick out the correct picture from a set of two pictures. As the child grows older you can use other ways to train the photo memory (like memorise the order of certain pictures), but for a one year old, they do much better with the former approach.

I discovered that I needed a large collection of Photo Memory Materials (I couldn’t keep showing the same pictures), and the internet was insufficient for me to keep up with my daily Shichida Home Practice sessions..so I turned to making my own materials (which I found out, wasn’t too hard after all).

I bought  a book to teach children how to draw, and copied the pictures, making the second picture just slightly different from the first-

picture memory 1

Then I coloured the pictures..and laminated them (Samantha will mouth or tear the pictures if I don’t). Time for home practice!

picture memory 2

picture memory 3

littleBits Review

I recently stumbled upon littleBits, ‘an opensource library of electronic modules that snap together with tiny magnets for prototyping, learning, and fun’.

In simpler terms, it is a collection of tiny circuit-board pieces (‘modules”) that you can mix around depending on what you want to create. Each module has a specific function. There are modules that allow for an input, such as a motion trigger, a slide dimmer, a button, etc, and others that produce a certain output, such as light, sound or vibration. One of the modules is a DC motor so you can even make things such as toy cars! Here’s a whole list of modules.

These modules only snap together if the circuit is correct so it is perfect for tech-illiterate geek wannabes like me. I was pleasantly surprised when I found out that this product was available online in Singapore, at a much cheaper price than on the US website. (I later found out that my secondary school classmate is an investor into littleBits. What a coincidence!)

I ordered both the starter and extended kits (they had different modules inside) and I received the kits two days later via courier.

littleBits box

Here’s what I found in the kits-

starter

Starter kit-

  • 9V battery, battery cable and power module
  • wire (to lengthen the circuit if necessary)
  • pulse (sends out current at regular intervals – the frequency can be adjusted by a tiny screwdriver in the box)
  • dimmer (turning the knob increases/decreases the current flowing through)
  • button (pressing it allows current through)
  • vibration motor
  • rgb led (an led light where you can adjust the contribution of red, green and blue, to give you the exact colour you want)
  • led
  • pressure sensor (current flows through when the pressure pad picks up pressure)
  • bargraph (shows you how much current is flowing thought by means of a series of led lights)

extended 1
extended 2

Extended kit-

  • 9V battery, battery cable and power module
  • USB power module (allows you to use a usb port to power up the circuit)
  • slide dimmer (sliding the knob up and down changes the amount of current)
  • buzzer
  • toggle switch (an on/off switch)
  • wire x 2
  • light trigger (sends current through when there is light or when it is dark, adjustable using the screwdriver provided)
  • long led x 2 (not that ‘long’, in my opinion)
  • branch (allows you to branch into three outputs)
  • roller switch (a switch that stays open unless you press it)
  • dc motor
  • motion trigger (allows current through when motion is sensed)
I quickly pieced together a simple contraption for Samantha’s Makedo playhouse..within seconds, it was good to go!
littleBits trial circuitI think littleBits is a brilliant idea and just like Makedo, it promotes creative thinking in kids. By combining littleBits with art and craft ideas, endless fun toys/inventions can be made, limited only by imagination..and perhaps the parent’s wallet! (Each module can be bought individually and they range from $10 to $40!) However, I feel that the potential fun and cerebral stimulation the child will have during these tech-and-craft sessions far outweigh the costs.You might realise that the set that you can buy locally is a ‘retired’ set according to the US online store. I asked my friend (the boss) about it and he said it’s essentially the same modules, only in different boxes. Comparing both my boxes together with the ‘base’ and ‘premium’ kits available at the US online store, only the servo and sound trigger are missing, and in their place I get the toggle switch, USB power and motion trigger. Not too bad, I think. He also added that we can expect to order loose bits from him soon! Yay!

Where to buy:

  • The starter kit (of 10 modules) is going for $115 + $8 shipping
  • The extended kit (of 14 modules) is going for $180 + $8 shipping
Overseas: http://littlebits.com/Have fun!!

Disclosure: While I am friends with the investor of littleBits, I purchased the littleBits sets and decided to write this review because I think this product is amazing. I did not receive remuneration for writing this review.

Update (16 Dec 2013):
Now all the kits are available in the Singapore shop! New links updated.

Watermelon Pram Fruit Salad

For Samantha’s birthday I decided to make a fruit salad in a watermelon pram (I had previously seen a picture of this in 9GAG). It’s quite simple to make, and will invariably impress the guests.

Items needed:

  • Fruits – I used a watermelon, honeydew, grapes (green and red), kiwi fruits, cherries and an orange. You can use any fruit, but you will need the watermelon to make the pram.
  • Melon baller (you know, that tool used to make small watermelon balls)
  • Toothpicks
  • Knife (I started off with a cleaver but quickly downgraded to a kitchen knife – it gave me more dexterity)
  • A pacifier/dummy for decoration

watermelon pram

First, make sure the external surface of the watermelon is clean (we don’t want any guests to get diarrhoea).

The next step is probably the most tricky part, as you will have to cut out a quarter from the watermelon. You can use a marker pen to make a few markings on the watermelon, to guide your knife, but I find that almost impossible to follow due to the contour of the watermelon. Only the skin of the watermelon needs to be incised into, as you can simply tear the inner red flesh apart once you have dealt with the thick external green layer.

watermelon pram 2

Next you will need to scrape out all the watermelon flesh. I used the melon baller to make a few balls fist before scraping the watermelon cleanly (We used the extra melon to make melon juice).

watermelon pram 3

The rest is easy – just fill up the watermelon with fruits of your choice! I added an orange as a baby’s head and stuck in  raisins for eyes and a pacifier. For the pram wheels, I cut a slice of kiwi fruit and stuck it to the side of the watermelon with a toothpick. The outer end of the toothpick was covered with half a grape. Ta-dah! It is done~

watermelon pram 5

watermelon pram 4

watermelon pram 6

Total time taken: 1 and a half hours (one person).

Felt Alphabets

I decided to spend the weekend making felt alphabets to decorate the living room – it wasn’t as hard as I thought it would be!

feltstencils

I bought felt from Daiso at $2 per pack of 5 – total $12 for 30 pieces. The felt measured 18 x 18cm.  Then, using printed outlines of alphabets as stencils, I drew the letters onto the felt and cut out the alphabets.

Dletters

Here’s my completed product! I stuck these felt letters onto the window and cupboards around the living room.

EFGHIJ

STUVWX

Samantha enjoys going up to the alphabets and touching them. I use these for tactile stimulation now. When she gets older, I intend to use them to teach her how to read and write the alphabets (by tracing the felt letters).

Here are some other websites for more (technically challenging) alphabet felt and related projects!

  1. Stuffed felt alphabets
  2. Wool alphabets
  3. Making a felt board (I will get down to this one day)
  4. Magnetic felt alphabets